Thursday, August 4, 2011

Road Tripping It: How to Last 11 Hours on the Road with Kids


Today I began my 10-11 day journey from my hometown in Alberta to Vancouver to Seattle to home again. I am travelling with my neighbour friend, Jana, and her two adorable and active kids, P and H. (I'll withhold their names for privacy's sake.) Driving from my hometown to Kelowna, according to "George" our British GPS dude, was going to take 9 hours. We managed to stretch it out a lot more by hitting nearly (but not all) cheesy tourist attractions along the way, which was a lot of fun when you are traveling with easily excitable little ones.

Riding in a car with two kids under 10 for 11 hours can still be fun - I swear!

We stopped at a few rest stops along the way to get some great photos of the unrivalled Rocky Mountains, and then parked at Field, British Columbia for a picnic lunch and a chance for the kids to complete their “Junior Rangers” parks program for Yoho National Park. Every national park in Canada creates booklets for children to complete with word searches, matching games, eye spy games, and other activities. These things are perfect for kids to do while driving to keep them entertained - just a helpful FYI for traveling parents out there!

While at the Information Center in Field, B.C., the Yoho National Park kids’ booklet required the kids to do some fossil rubbings. Once those were done, the kids presented their completed booklets to the parks personnel, who then made them do a pledge and presented them with badges. It was pretty cute. And apparently this can happen at all national parks, as long as you can get your hands on those booklets, which are available at any national park information centre.

Taking a break to explore the rest stop at Field, British Columbia.

After a gorgeous picnic lunch by the blue waters of Field’s wading pond (where P had her first “pee pee panties” episode of the trip - potty-training is certainly an adventure, especially while on the road!), we were back on the highway. We traveled along the Trans Canada, which is riddled with cool tunnels, where I challenged P and H to hold their breaths for the duration of the tunnel. It never worked: someone yawned, giggled, or burped. I will not disclose whether it was the kids or me.

Zipping through the tunnels along the Trans Canada Highway in British Columbia.

Our next stop to stretch our legs and experience a little of Canada’s interesting history was at Craigellachie, British Columbia, where the last spike for the Canadian Pacific Railway was driven in November of 1885. This site is very famous, particularly for my grade 7 students, who have to study about it in their Social 7 textbook. For anyone who isn’t Canadian (or for those Canadians who maybe fell asleep during their social studies class), Craigellachie and the last spike represent the completion of nearly 3000 miles of steel rails and wooden ties, many years of construction, and a whole lot of tragic deaths. I had to take some pictures for my students while there!

Attempting to 'drive the last spike' at Craigellachie, B.C.

Back in the car we climbed, and drove onto Sicamous, where Jana promised me an interesting ice cream experience. We pulled up at a store called “D” Dutchman Ice Cream, which is not just an ice cream store but a full-fledged dairy farm! The farm produces all of its own milk , cheese, and of course, ice cream. I bought some fresh chocolate milk in a unique litre glass bottle, and a small “Chocolate Raspberry Delight” cone.

We wandered out to the farmyard area, where we could stroll amongst feeding calves, full-grown Holsteins (behind fences of course) and even a few “pet” animals, like the dromedary Caspar (do NOT call him a camel - H will yell at you!), the donkey Poncho, and the white llama Primo. Don’t get too close to Primo - she’ll spit on you! It was indeed an interesting ice cream experience - if you head to Sicamous, do not miss “D” Dutchman Ice Cream!

The DROMEDARY at D Dutchman Ice Cream in Sicamous, B.C.

At Sicamous, we turned onto the 97A highway headed to Kelowna. That road is very pretty, very winding, and has great views of the British Columbia foothills and lake landscape. Along 97A is one of the strangest places you will ever see - The Log Cabin. There aren’t enough words to describe this place, because honestly, there is so much random crap there I wouldn’t know where to start. Giant oversize wooden porch chairs, huge plastic swans, old hand-me-down MacDonalds play place furniture, every tacky lawn ornament ever created, old wagons, old tires turned into petunia planters... it was a haven for junk collectors.

The Log Barn was an extravaganza of cheesy yard ornaments and high-priced couture groceries!

The Log Barn also has a very busy, cute, and slightly expensive grocery store - there are about a thousand and one decorations above the shelves, strange things hanging from the rafters, even fountains and palm trees! The food they sell is really tasty, such as homemade Mennonite sausage and locally cured cheeses, but the prices were too much for me.

The inside of the Log Barn was just as eclectic as the outside.

The Log Cabin also has a bit of everything to entice the young and the old to stop by. The kids’ favourite activity was feeding the greedy goats on “Dave’s Goat Walk” - buy some seeds and popcorn kernels from the bubblegum dispensers, fill up a tin cup which is tied to a rope, and haul the rope to the top of the goat walk - the goats will be waiting on the top floor to receive their goodies! A few goats even knew how to haul the rope up on their own, by either using their hooves or their chins to rotate the pulley wheel. Very entertaining! You could also hand feed the goats, but if you choose to do this, be very careful and never go INTO the goat pen while holding a handful of food - one woman was bitten by a goat while we were there, and the four-footed chomper bit her down to the fingerbone! Yuck!

Crafty, glutenous goats await treats at the top of Dave's Goat Walk at the Log Barn in B.C.

This was our last stop before we made it to Kelowna. We drove past “The Enchanted Forest” - a place I’ve visited during my childhood - because Jana and her kids had been there a couple of weeks ago. The admission fee per person is $18, which includes a walk through the forest to see the different ceramic figurine tableaus of fairytale creatures. Anything additional to that, such as the zipline, costs extra money.

All in all, our drive turned out to be around 11 hours, but we hit up many fun and unusual stops, and it honestly felt like we had only been driving for about 6 hours. For “just a driving day”, it turned out to be quite a full day. If you are planning a long trip, I highly recommend budgeting in just two extra hours on top of your driving time so that you can freely stop at all the strange and random places you find. It breaks up the trip, adds interest for all passengers, and makes for some great memories!

4 comments:

  1. Ah, so you're finally on your way down here to the "Emerald City" (Seattle). Give me a holler (on TravelnLass.com) when you get to town. If I'm free, perhaps we can hook up.

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  2. Yup, we actually arrived this afternoon - I spent the day walking the streets of Seattle and getting to know the downtown area. Then we hit up the Duck Tour to try and see some of the outer parts of your fair city. It is such a beautiful place! I am right now sitting on the balcony of my hotel, enjoying the view of the Space Needle with a glass of red. We are here for three or four more days, so just say the word and I'm sure I can arrange a meet! It would be great to meet you!

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  3. Kelowna is really a very beautiful city and has many attractions and there is no dearth of things to do in Kelowna.

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    1. I know! I wish we'd had more time to spend in Kelowna. I have many fond memories of spending lazy summer days exploring the city with my cousins. :)

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